An unforgettable steamboat river cruise
This wonderful tour of the American South combines seven nights cruising the mighty Mississippi with two-night stays in each of New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville. Cruise up the lazy river from New Orleans to Memphis aboard American Queen, a luxurious steamboat that combines a traditional paddlewheeler's charm with the modern comforts of air-conditioned state rooms and suites, two excellent restaurants, bars and lounges and even a cinema, theatre and pool. Discover some of "Ol' Man River's" most historic and enthralling settlements, as you enjoy the luxury of life on board.
The American Queen Tour Itinerary
Fly to Atlanta to meet your Tour Manager, then transfer by coach to your hotel in the Alabama state capital of Montgomery. Rest and relax, and enjoy your first taste of Southern hospitality this evening.
Day One: Fly to the USA
Today you'll cross the countryside of Harper Lee's Alabama into Louisiana, and head along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans. Check in to your hotel then make the most of your second evening in America's Deep South.
Day Two: From Montgomery to New Orleans
This morning's guided tour is the perfect introduction to New Orleans: the 'Big Easy'. The iron balconies and covered sidewalks of the French Quarter have appeared in so many films, TV programmes and photographs over the years, but there's simply no substitute for seeing them in person. You'll also explore Treme, just to the north of the French Quarter, across Louis Armstrong Park, where colourful clapboard houses line streets that remain an important home for New Orleans' African-American and Creole culture.
Day Three: Included New Orleans' French Quarter tour
Later, join our optional Louisiana swampland excursion for a glimpse of the city's surrounding countryside and wildlife. Keep and eye out for alligators, and enjoy a taste of the region's unique Creole lifestyle, then head back to the 'Quarter' to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the place.
Head to the quayside, this afternoon, where you'll board majestic American Queen. Settle in to your cabin then enjoy your first evening on board as the stern-mounted paddlewheel makes its first turns through the waters of the mighty Mississippi.
Day Four: Begin your American Queen river cruise
American Queen's first stop is one of the finest examples of an antebellum (pre-American Civil War) plantation mansion in the USA. Oak Alley is named for the striking, 800-foot avenue of southern live oak that runs from the river to the main house.
Day Five: Included Oak Alley excursion
Step back on board after your visit, and enjoy a leisurely lunch followed by an afternoon relaxing and enjoying your luxurious surroundings.
Today, American Queen calls at St Francisville, the oldest town in the Florida Parishes. Explore the town (which incorporates no less than 140 notable historic buildings) at your own pace.
Day Six: Optional Louisiana State Penitentiary excursion
Alternatively, for a more unusual, but also fascinating, experience you can join an optional Premium Shore Excursion to Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola Prison). This award-winning tour offers visitors a remarkable insight into tales of redemption and rehabilitation from the prison - some told by current inmates.
You'll stop off at Natchez, the Mississippi's oldest permanent settlement, today. Explore "the prettiest town in the south", and perhaps take a break at one of the riverside cafes and restaurants in notorious Natchez-Under-the-Hill, once a haunt of highwaymen and river pirates.
Day Seven: Natchez and Natchez-Under-the-Hill
Abraham Lincoln described Vicksburg as "the key to the South", and it proved to be the site of a significant turning point in the American Civil War. Learn about the siege and the subsequent Confederate surrender, then explore the town's historic port. You'll also have the chance to join another Premium Shore Excursion and take an unforgettable tour of the battlefield itself and the National Cemetery.
Day Eight: Optional Vicksburg National Military Park excursion
Make the most of American Queen's gym or spa, listen to a fascinating talk from the on-board river lore experts, or simply relax with a good book in a comfortable lounge or on-deck rocking chair as you spend today simply cruising. Don't miss the chance to visit the Captain's Pilot House or the Engine Room Viewing Area, which is next to the giant paddlewheel, for an insight into how this extraordinary ship operates.
Day Nine: Spend a relaxing day on-board
American Queen's last call is pretty Helena on the Mississippi Delta. If you know your music, you may well recognise this as the home of the King Biscuit Time KFFA daily radio show. The show first broadcast Delta Blues to the world in 1941, and is still on the air over 60 years later. Step ashore and listen to the lunchtime show in the place that inspired so much of its music, then wander the streets of a town that was also one of Mark Twain's favourite spots.
Day 10: Helena on the Mississippi Delta
Say goodbye to your floating palace as you disembark in Memphis, early this morning. The King's hometown boasts an unrivalled musical heritage, and you'll have the chance to explore it, visiting Sun Studio (where rock 'n' roll was born) and the preserved majesty of Elvis Presley's Graceland. You'll also pass by the preserved frontage of the Lorraine Motel, the site where Martin Luther King was assassinated on 4th April 1968.
Day 11: End your river cruise in Memphis, Tennessee
Later, you can head to Beale Street for an evening of barbecue, blues and rock 'n' roll.
Today's full-day tour includes visits to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and, in downtown Memphis, the Rock 'n' Soul Museum, where a self guided audio tour takes you through the story of the growth of southern music as well as offering literally thousands of tracks to listen to. A more serious (but no less remarkable) story is told at the National Civil Rights Museum, which occupies the site of the former Lorraine Motel that you passed yesterday.
Day 12: Optional Civil Rights Museum and Rock 'n' Soul Museum excursion
You'll head east, today, stopping in Tupelo (on the way to Nashville) for the chance to take a tour of the 'shotgun shack' where Elvis was born.
Day 13: From Memphis to Nashville via Tupelo
Nashville's reputation and place in country music history is unmatched. And, on today's pilgrimage, you'll have the chance to visit the legendary Studio B and the Country Music Hall of Fame, one of the world's largest music museums and research centres. They're just two highlights of a city that's also home to the Ryman Auditorium (the original home of the Grand Ole Opry) and the iconic Ernest Tubb Record Shop, which still stands at 417 Broadway.
Day 14: Included Studio B and Country Music Hall of Fame excursion
Later, make the most of your final evening with a visit to one of the city's 150-plus live music venues.
Enjoy a scenic drive through the wooded hills of Tennessee, calling at Chattanooga (of "Choo Choo" fame), on your way to Atlanta airport where you'll board your overnight flight home.
Day 15: From Nashville to Atlanta via Tennessee
You'll land back home in the UK, after a once-in-a-lifetime Mississippi river cruise holiday.
Day 16: Arrive back in the UK